The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of justice and as citizens of the Kingdom we must labor to defend, preserve and protect all who are denied dignity and justice. So this Sunday we will recognize the innate human dignity of every person made in the image of God. In doing so we draw attention to the present assaults on human dignity such as abortion, racism, racial injustice and sadly many others. And we focus on the ways in which God is leading us to respond.
John brings our attention to the amazing fact that the Word of God came into the world and took upon human nature and dwelt among us. Since the creation of men and women in his image, God has always desired to dwell among his people, but sin has often marred this. In the person of Jesus, God tabernacled among us. In Jesus, the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. But horrifically, when God did this, many people would have nothing to do with him! John wants us to be hit by two truths- that Eternal God came into the world and when He did, the dark world failed to receive him. But to all who did receive him, He gave the right to become children of God.
The Gospel of John expounds upon one main theme, that Jesus is the Son of God. And the book has a brilliant design. The Gospel of John focuses on the last three years of Jesus’s life and especially on his death and resurrection. And the Apostle John tells us exactly why he has written the book, to bring us to a place of faith in Jesus so that we may have life in Jesus’ name.
We must pray if we would continue to live as Christians. Prayer is a vital means of maintaining a healthy and vibrant faith and it is essential to our joy. Some of us may look back at 2018 and feel like we made significant strides in our relationship with the Lord through prayer. Others of us may presently feel like our prayer life is pretty dry, barren and stale. No matter who you are, we all have room to improve in prayer. All of us can do better at being more diligent in our prayer life. So this morning our goal is to refresh our prayer lives through studying an example of a great prayer. One of the ways we learn to do something is by seeing it modeled for us. We watch, we listen and then attempt to do it ourselves. We can be apprenticed in prayer by Paul through reading and studying his prayers.
One of the best things that accompanies Christmas is a season and spirit of love among human beings. You can’t have Christmas in any meaningful way without love. This love at Christmas manifests itself among other ways, through giving of gifts and sacrificial generosity. And even these have their genesis, their beginning in God. Christmas is a season of love and generosity because God is loving and generous. God loves us and Christmas is about the love of God being made manifest through his Son.
This week we are privileged to welcome Dr. Randy Adams, Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention. Dr. Adams has served our convention since May of 2013. Before that he served for 28 years as a pastor in Texas and Oklahoma. Dr. Adams is continuing our Advent series this Sunday and bringing us a message of hope.
We all yearn for peace and yet, often peace often eludes us. Peace eludes us because we misunderstand what peace is and hence, turn to the wrong things to find peace. True peace is found in the wholeness of relationship with the God who made us. True peace is being reconciled unto God and dwelling in his presence under His reign forever. And Christmas is about God making peace with us.
God makes our joy possible in our earthly circumstances by directing us to place our joy not in things but in Him. He offers us Joy in Christ and joy in Christ is the highest and most satisfying joy.That is why the message of Christmas is one of profound joy. Christmas is good news of a great joy. A great joy that will endure this season and every season into eternity. A joy that is steadfast and immovable. A joy that our hearts long for. A joy that satisfies like nothing else.
Forgiveness is difficult. Each week we struggle with forgiving others while simultaneously struggling with our need to be forgiven. This is a tension we live in. Each week brings opportunity to ask for forgiveness and extend forgiveness. But we rarely do it. This week we examine Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness and we learn what forgiveness is and is not and how to forgive from the heart.
The Christian is not promised an easy life yet Paul commands the Philippians not to be anxious but at all times to rejoice in the Lord. Despite the trials and suffering we experience, we are exhorted to trust in the Lord’s sovereignty and goodness rather than doubt His plans and control. Such doubts lead to worry which underestimates God’s power, care, and knowledge of our situation. The antidote to anxious living is faithful prayer. The Lord uses prayer to direct our needs, correct our priorities, and increase our joy. The end result of His Spirit working within the faithful Christian is a peace that endures, guards, and comforts.